On progress

First Published: 2017-03-10

Markets cheered shock of Brexit expecting a return of the true progressives of classical liberalism

Deepak Lal 

The post-traumatic stress amongst the clerisy and most Western media, after Brexit and Donald Trump’s presidential victory, is being expressed as the defeat of “progressives” by Hilary Clinton’s “deplorables”. But is such a narrative valid? The answer turns on what is meant by “progressive”. The magisterial study of the History of the Idea of Progress by Robert Nisbet argues that the idea of progress is a Western one which goes back to the Greeks and the Christian Church — particularly to St. Augustine’s The City of God. It …

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Deepak Lal is the James S. Coleman Professor Emeritus of International Development Studies at the University of California at Los Angeles, professor emeritus of political economy at University College London, and a senior fellow at the Cato Institute. He was a member of the Indian Foreign Service (1963-66) and has served as a consultant to the Indian Planning Commission, the World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, various UN agencies, South Korea, and Sri Lanka. From 1984 to 1987 he was research administrator at the World Bank. Lal is the author of a number of books, including The Poverty of Development Economics; The Hindu Equilibrium; Against Dirigisme; The Political Economy of Poverty, Equity and Growth; Unintended Consequences: The Impact of Factor Endowments, Culture, and Politics on Long-Run Economic Performance; and Reviving the Invisible Hand: The Case for Classical Liberalism in the 21st Century.

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